Next Event: February 25-27, 2022 (Virtually)

Meet The Trainers


Jennifer S. Wilkov

Multi #1 Best-Selling Author, Podcast Host, Producer, Creative Consultant, Journalist & Media Pro at Your Book Is Your Hook!

Jennifer S. Wilkov is a #1 international best-selling award-winning author, an award-winning freelance writer, a popular media personality and executive producer, the Literary Agent Matchmaker™ and a respected book & business consultant in her business called “Your Book Is Your Hook!” She is also a blogger for books for the Huffington Post, and a columnist for the award-winning magazine PUBLISHED and Book Marketing Magazine. She supports first-time writers, seasoned authors, screenwriters and playwrights with the essentials to become a bestseller: a great project, a strong platform and a well-polished pitch, presentation and hook for their books or projects. She educates and assists them with the writing, marketing and getting published/produced processes (traditional with an agent, self-publishing and e-publishing for books / traditional and non-traditional film/tv/theater) for their book ideas and film/tv/theater projects as well as the building of their platform to raise their visibility to readers, the media, Hollywood and beyond.

Jennifer runs the Writers Group for New York Women in Film & Television. She continues to passionately teach and educate writers at the Writers Guild of America, New York Women in Film & Television, as a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York, as a speaker at writers conferences, industry events and for groups, and teaches online for writers’ resources such as Writers Digest, The Writers Store, and others.

Jennifer is also the creator and producer of The Next Bestseller™ Weekend Workshop, a safe space that provides 12 fortunate writers each year with exclusive access to the dream team of industry professionals to help you prepare and practice your pitch and presentation BEFORE you have to talk about it to the professionals and others.


Kelly Thomas

Poet and Junior Agent at Serendipity Literary Agency

Kelly Thomas brings 15 years of sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers. Kelly is a certified copy editor who has a Bachelor's degree in English (Literature) from Pace University. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the D4EO literary agency. Kelly is a published poet with publications in 'Tales for the Disenchanted' (2008) and 'Penumbra Art & Literature' (2015). She serves as a freelance editor and ghostwriter in her free time.

Kelly is a ferocious reader, lover of books, and has a passion for writing. Indeed a writer at heart, no matter the form (essays, articles, blogs, poems, short stories, marketing literature, resumes, or manuscripts), she will quickly put pen to page. Kelly is building her client roster and is actively seeking the next bestselling author!

What She's Looking For:
Kelly is most interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime), and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, mysteries, suspense, comedies). She enjoys fast-paced, plot-driven fiction with twists, turns, and jaw dropping moments. She is drawn to stories about leadership, overcoming adversity, and beating the odds. Stories that are told from a unique psychological vantage point are always of interest. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot.

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Lane Shefter Bishop

Hollywood Producer at Vast Entertainment

Lane Shefter Bishop is a multi-award winning producer/director who has received numerous accolades for her work including an EMMY, six Telly Awards, a Videographer Award, three Communicator Awards, a Sherril C. Corwin Award, an Aurora Award, a Davey Award, a New York Festivals Award and the DGA Fellowship Award for Episodic Television.

Currently Ms. Bishop is the CEO of Vast Entertainment, THE go to book-to-screen company, with numerous projects, including feature films: THE LAST APPLE (Joel Silver/Silver Pictures and Ineffable Pictures), REBOOT

(Mike Medavoy/Phonix Pictures), BLOODY MARY; ORIGINS (Broad Green Pictures), THE KILLER IN ME (Mar Vista Entertainment) and THE DUFF (McG/Wonderland – released 2015) for CBS Films & Lionsgate; MOW: THE CHOKING GAME (Orly Adelson Prods – released 2014) for Lifetime, which Ms. Bishop also directed; and TV series: CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATH (Mike Medavoy/Phoenix Pictures) for Universal Cable Productions, BLACKBIRD (Intrigue Ent), SHIFTERS (Chuck Roven/Atlas Ent), THE BODY INSTITUTE and THE P WORD (Storyline Ent/Zadan&Meron Prods), UNTITLED ALEX QUADE PROJECT and JOHN HERY F*CKING BROWNE (Viewfinder Pictures), MERCY/MINOR ADJUSTMENTS (John Sacchi/5 More Minutes Prods), DIVE (Hunt Lowry/Roserock Pictures) and ANNE PERRY’S ‘THE INVESTIGATOR’ (Lauren Shuler Donner/The Donner Co). Additionally, Ms. Bishop co-produced the feature film ASSASSINATION GAMES for MPCA. Ms. Bishop is also the former EVP of Motion Pictures and Television at TwinStar Entertainment.

In addition to her scripted fare, Ms. Bishop also has extensive experience in reality television. Vast is currently partnered on all non-scripted programming with Bishop-Lyons Entertainment, which has a first-look deal with ITV Studios. To date, Ms. Bishop has directed more than two dozen sizzle reels as well as pilots for BLE, including VISIONARIES (partnered with Left/Right) for AMC, BARBADORO COMPOUND (ITV/MTV) and REINVENTION (Fox TV Studios.) Moreover, Ms. Bishop shot the pilot episodes for the series GEARS and the new show BODY SHOP CONFESSIONS.

Ms. Bishop is also a three-time speaker at the WGA as well as at numerous writers conferences around the country and is author of the book SELL YOUR STORY IN A SINGLE SENTENCE; ADVICE FROM THE FRONT LINES OF HOLLYWOOD, published by prestigious W.W. Norton & Company in May of 2016. The book hit #1 on Amazon in New Releases five times before its release date. In a recent online interview, CNN dubbed her “The Book Whisperer” of Hollywood.

Ms. Bishop began her work in the industry at Moxie Productions, where she produced and directed projects for such networks as ABC, Showtime, HBO and MTV. She has directed numerous television shows and six feature-length motion pictures, including THE DAY LABORERS (aka Los Jornaleros), which received Official Selection in Edward James Olmos’ LA Latino Int’l Film Festival , Cine Accion (San Fran), OutFest (Hollywood), Reel Affirmations (Wash DC), NewFest (NY) as well as the Milan International Film Festival (Italy). The film was distributed through HBO and Blockbuster. Ms. Bishop is currently in discussions to direct the feature film DEAD BY MIDNIGHT.

Ms. Bishop holds a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Barbara and an M.F.A. in Production from USC’s School of Cinema/Television. She is a director-member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.


Lindsay Roth

Author, Television Producer and Owner of RIZ Productions

Lindsay Jill Roth has created, developed and produced a wide variety of award winning linear and digital programming globally. At Carlos Slim and Larry King's ORA TV and Stick Figure Studios in NYC, she produced Emmy Nominated Larry King Now, and Executive Produced Emmy Nominated Haylie Duff's Real Girl's Kitchen (which she created for Ora and Cooking Channel), Catching Hell (NBC), Queen Bee and Queen Boss (BET Network). Founder of RIZ Productions (offices in London and New York City), Lindsay has produced a wide variety of projects for clients and platforms including IBM, US Open, The Masters, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, Pebble Beach, Jason Beauty, Green Chef, ESPN Fantasy Football, Guinness World Records, Nokia, Facebook Live, Facebook Watch. She graduated from Northwestern University's School of Speech and Medill School of Journalism. Her novel What Pretty Girls Are Made Of was published by Simon & Schuster in 2015.


Leann Garms

Media Motivator at Build.Buzz.Launch

As a 25-year veteran of public relations, trained in Journalism, Leann loves a great story. Whether it’s a book, a nonprofit cause or a new business venture, she uncovers the unique story that motivates the media to pay attention. Her clients have included authors, speakers, film festivals, theaters and environmental nonprofits who have been featured in national radio, TV and print including Larry King Live, CNN, Biography Magazine and over 1500 radio and TV shows nationwide, and print as far as India. She is a proponent of online PR and virtual press kits as a method to raise profiles, increase SEO, gain media attention and position clients as experts in their field.

A serial entrepreneur, Leann has owned her own public relations firm, served as Founder and Vice President of The Wentworth Group, a consulting firm to nonprofits, and most recently formed the Book PR and Marketing firm, Build.Buzz.Launch. Media to accelerate brands for authors and speakers. After seeing a need to help authors navigate the paths to publishing, BBL Publishing was launched in July of 2014. This hybrid publishing imprint of BBL Media publishes and markets a select handful of titles in the Health, Wellness and Spirituality genres. Now, Leann gets to read great stories every day and help tell the world about them.


Melanie Gorman

SEO Specialist & Marketing Manager for small business owners at

Melanie’s early career started as a counselor in private practice. Her interest in publishing led her to work with John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus beginning in 2002. Today she’s the SVP with, a digital publishing company focused on healthy relationships, life, and love.

As YourTango’s resident “expert on the experts”, Melanie’s expertise in SEO bridges her specialization in human psychology with her love of the written word. She helps counselors, coaches, and small business owners to understand how to market their services in ways that drive traffic and create raving fans. YourTango’s exclusive “membership community” brings together helping professionals which Melanie and her team teach how to market their business in simple, powerful ways. All of which starts with good communication and intelligent SEO to drive traffic, leads, and sales to the businesses YourTango supports.


Christine Gritmon

Social Media Strategist,

Christine Gritmon empowers small business owners and solopreneurs to tell their own stories on social media. You CAN do it – she’ll teach you how! She’s spoken on stages worldwide and is a frequent expert guest on podcasts, live streams, Twitter chats, and blog posts, as well as hosting her own weekly Twitter chat, #ChatAbouBrand, and live interview show, Let’s Talk About Brand.


Ben Pelteson

Public Speaking Coach and Story Doula at Fearless Communicators

Ben Pelteson is a Public Speaking Coach and Story Doula who uses 15+ years of experience as a professional stage and screen actor to help global thought leaders tell a more powerful story about their work out loud. He has appeared in lead and supporting roles with many of the US’s top classical acting companies as well as onscreen (Homeland, The Americans, Law & Order, The Blacklist, and StartUp among others.) Ben is the former National Outreach Director for Broadway Impact, an organization of theater artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality, and was co-Curator of the first ever Daedalus Film Fest in Ashland, OR. As Lead Facilitator at Fearless Communicators, his public speaking clients include entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, coaches, founders, and bestselling authors on 3 continents. For more info, visit


Randy Peyser

Author, Pitch Professional & Founder of

Randy Peyser is the CEO of Her company edits and ghostwrites books and book proposals, and she pitches manuscripts to New York literary agents and publishers. One of her clients recently signed a 6-figure deal with Simon & Schuster for a book her company ghostwrote. The book was sold in a bidding war.

Sample of recent books sold to publishers: Great Mondays (business, McGraw-Hill, 4 publishers offered contracts); Inspired CEO (business); Red Mittens (paranormal fiction); Life in a Word (gift book); Red Stocking Society (middle grade); Structural Integration and Energy Medicine (mind, body, spirit); Slave: A Human Trafficking Survivor Finds Life (memoir); Remodeling Success (how-to); and Kindness in a Scary World (children's).

Other past successes: Nice Girls DO Get the Sale was sold to a publisher and featured in Time Magazine. Hired! was sold to Career Press in 1 week, and FedEX Office bought 3000 copies for their stores. Pivot received a 6-figure deal in a bidding war and was sold to Simon & Schuster. It made The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists. Pivot and Adrenaline Nation were featured in airport bookstores. Finding the Wow was featured in Oprah magazine and on Hallmark TV.

Randy is the author of Crappy to Happy as featured in the movie, “Eat Pray Love”; The Power of Miracle Thinking; and The Write-A-Book Program.


Jill Michelle Williams

Jill Michelle Williams has been producing and writing for television for more than 15 years. She is also a content creator and has shepherded numerous projects through the entire development process. Her specialties lie in the unscripted lifestyle and competition space with a sweet spot for working with high-profile talent.

After graduating with a degree in Broadcast Journalism she made the leap from local news to network prime time and to date, has produced over 185 hours of television for NBC, ABC, HBO Max, MTV, OWN, and LIFETIME to name a few.

From the upcoming HBO Max series “Ellen’s Next Great Designer” to the fashion sensation “Project Runway All Stars” wrangling the likes of Pharrell, Miss Piggy, and Diane von Furstenberg, her range knows no bounds and she is constantly looking for ways to elevate whatever project she touches.


Vincent Zandri

New York Times, USA Today & Amazon Kindle Overall Best-Selling Author

Winner of the 2015 PWA Shamus Award and the 2015 ITW Thriller Award for Best Original Paperback Novel for MOONLIGHT WEEPS, Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and AMAZON KINDLE OVERALL NO.1 bestselling author of more than 40 novels and novellas including THE REMAINS, EVERYTHING BURNS, ORCHARD GROVE, THE SHROUD KEY and THE GIRL WHO WASN'T THERE. His list of domestic publishers include Delacorte, Dell, Down & Out Books, Thomas & Mercer, Polis Books, Blackstone Audio, and Oceanview Publishing. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, his work is translated in the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. Having sold close to 1 million editions of his books, Zandri was also the subject of a recent major feature by the New York Times. He has also made appearances on Bloomberg TV and the FOX News network. In December 2014, Suspense Magazine named Zandri's, THE SHROUD KEY, as one of the "Best Books of 2014." Recently, Suspense Magazine selected WHEN SHADOWS COME as one of the "Best Books of 2016". He was also a finalist for the 2019 Derringer Award. A freelance photo-journalist and the author of the popular "lit blog," The Vincent Zandri Vox, Zandri has written for Living Ready Magazine, RT, New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, The Times Union (Albany), Game & Fish Magazine, MudTribe, CrimeReads, Altcoin Magazine, and many more. An Active Member of MWA, he is also the CEO and Publisher of Bear Media LLC. He lives in New York. For more go to WWW.VINZANDRI.COM


Tom Avitabile

Multi #1 Best-Selling Author

Tom Avitabile, former Senior V.P./Creative Director at a New York advertising firm, is a writer, director, and producer with numerous film and television credits. He has an extensive background in engineering and computers, including work on projects for the House Committee on Science and Technology, which helped lay the foundation for “The Eighth Day,” his first novel. The subsequent series had two #1 bestsellers including his latest number one, “Give Us This Day” which hit #1 twice, is being released in audio By Podium. And the 5th installment featuring his kick-ass, female agent, Brooke Burrell, “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” is ready for fall 2021 release by The Story Plant. His dark psycho-sexual thriller, “The Devil’s Quota,” also achieved # 1. Tom recently became the narrator and producer of the upcoming audiobook, “Ultimate Betrayal” by Joe Badal, released through Blackstone Audio. In his spare time, Tom is a professional musician and an amateur woodworker.


Michael Roderick

Broadway Theater Producer at Small Pond Enterprises

Michael Roderick was a producer with R2D2 Productions on the Tony Nominated Broadway Production of The Scottsboro Boys. He also served as an Associate Producer of the Off Broadway musical Rooms a Rock Romance at New World Stages. Michael has been the program director for Self-Producing Artists at Theater Resources Unlimited as well as a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute’s 14-week Program as well as the Six-week Creative Intensive Program. Michael holds a BA in Secondary Ed English and Theatre Performance from Rhode Island College as well as a Masters in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities from NYU. He also is a published playwright, the founder of a conference for connnectors called ConnectorCon, and an entrepreneur.


Jack DePalma

Broadway Theater Consultant/Developer at

JACK DePALMA is a creative consultant for both new musicals and plays as packager, dramaturg and developer. He is especially interested in working with owners of intellectual property who want to translate their property as a play or musical.

He created Playwright Therapy to share his expertise on a personal level with writers who can benefit from weekly sessions crafted to their particular needs. Plays that have been developed through Playwright Therapy have been semi-finalists for the O'Neill Festival and the DVRF Playwrights Program.

Recently, he was creative consultant on the new musical Fat Kid Rules the World which had a developmental workshop production at UC Davis in September. He was also creative consultant on the new musical, Rose's War which played the Rave Festival last year.

He has also been the Play Development Director at the Old Globe in SanDiego where he helped plan the Globe's seasons. Among the productions were Matthew Lopez' The Whipping Man, Duncan Sheik’s Whisper House, Leslie Bricusse’s Sammy, and the musicals The First Wives Club and Robin and the 7 Hoods.

Prior to that, Jack was the Creative Director for the National Arts Management Company where he was involved in the Broadway productions of Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun, Seussical, Wonderful Town, Sweet Charity, and This is Our Youth. In addition, he was instrumental in the development of musical adaptations of Clueless, The Band Wagon, and The Opposite of Sex.

Jack has also screened applicants for The Dramatist's Guild, the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, the Quinn Foundation, and has served on the NAMT selection committee.


Bethany Marshall

Publishing Director at Morgan James Publishing

Bethany Marshall has played an integral role in the success of Morgan James Publishing, working closely with the company since 2008. An entrepreneur at heart, Bethany has worked with thousands of authors, and is passionate about working with authors who have a powerful message to share. Bethany helps Morgan James’ authors smoothly navigate the publishing process to ensure a final product that fully represents them and their vision. Bethany recognizes that the landscape of publishing is rapidly changing and enjoys finding innovative approaches to continue growth both for Morgan James and for our authors.

Peter Rubie

Peter Rubie

Literary Agent and CEO, FinePrint Literary Management

Peter Rubie specializes in a broad range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction. In non-fiction he specializes in narrative non-fiction, popular science, spirituality, history, biography, pop culture, business and technology, parenting, health, self help, music, and food. He is a “sucker” for outstanding writing. In fiction he represents literate thrillers, crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy, military fiction and literary fiction, middle grade and some boy oriented young adult fiction.

Rubie is a former BBC Radio and Fleet Street journalist and for several years was the director of the publishing section of the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. He was a member of the NYU faculty for 10 years, and taught the only university-level course in the country on how to become a literary agent. Prior to becoming an agent he was a publishing house editor for nearly six years, whose authors won prizes and critical acclaim. He has also been the editor-in-chief of a Manhattan local newspaper, and a freelance editor and book doctor for major publishers. He was a regular reviewer for the international trade magazinePublishers Weekly, and is a published author of both fiction and non-fiction. He is a member of AAR, and regularly lectures and writes on publishing and the craft of writing, and was once a professional jazz musician.


Nina Sadowsky

Author. Filmmaker. Educator. at

Nina Sadowsky is an author, filmmaker and educator. She has written numerous screenplays and produced such films as "The Wedding Planner.” Her debut thriller, JUST FALL, was published in 2016 and her BURIAL SOCIETY series launched in 2018 with the second book in the series, THE EMPTY BED, published on January 28, 2020. The Burial Society series is in development for television. She is also the author of CONVINCE ME to be published August 4, 2020. In addition to her role as Program Director of NYU Los Angeles, a "semester abroad" program for advanced students considering careers in the entertainment and media industries. Sadowsky also serves as the Director of Educational Outreach for the Humanitas Prize, is on the Leadership Council of Creative Future, and is a founding member of the Woolfpack, an organization of women showrunners, writers and producers committed to community and mentorship.


Eduardo Placer

Story Doula, Keynote Speaker, and Global Community Builder at Fearless Communicators

Eduardo Placer is a Story Doula, Keynote Speaker, and Global Community Builder. He is the CEO and Founder of Fearless Communicators. Clients include HBO, Google, Bank of America- Merrill Lynch, Yale, The Juilliard School, and the Wharton School of Business. Private clients include Presidential Candidates, UN Diplomats, Industry Leaders, Founders, and social activists. He was a professional actor for 15 years, working all over the country in over 38 plays and musicals. Eduardo has a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Acting from University of California, San Diego. He suffers from an acute condition called SHOWTUNITIS and may spontaneously erupt into song.


Maria C. Miles

Entertainment Attorney at Maria C. Miles

Maria C. Miles is the founding partner of an entertainment law firm with offices in New York. Ms. Miles’ practice focuses on all areas of entertainment and media law including, film (both documentary and feature), music, literary publishing, fashion, sports and new media. She serves as Co-Chair of the Entertainment & Media practice and is Of Counsel to Berlandi, Nussbaum & Reitzas, LLP, a full service law firm that offers a wide variety of legal expertise, including general corporate, banking & structured finance, litigation, tax and intellectual property.

Most recently, Maria was general counsel for a multi-media and digital start-up working on a diverse range of subject-matter areas including corporate and financing transactions, technology development and licensing, employment, and intellectual property (including trademarks, copyrights and patents) both in the US and abroad. Prior to her role as in-house counsel, Maria was associated with Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and Rudolph & Beer, LLP, where she served as counsel to numerous award-winning actors, writers, producers, television hosts and multi-platinum recording artists, sports teams, and corporations in the fashion and retail industries related to their entertainment and intellectual property matters.

Maria received her J.D. degree from Western New England University School of Law in 1998 and her undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College in 1995. Maria is admitted to practice in the State of New York, The United States District Court, Eastern & Southern Districts of New York, and The United States Supreme Court.


Mark DeGasperi

Author and Producer

Mark DeGasperi is Executive Director of Media Development International. He has worked as a writer, script doctor and professional story analyst in New York for twenty years, reading screenplays, plays and books for film and TV adaptation, most recently for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tribeca Productions, Paramount Pictures and Odyssey Networks. He has covered and scouted movie material for Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, Miramax, the William Morris Agency (WME/IMG) and International Creative Management (ICM Partners). He has worked in production at ABC Television in New York. He teaches Advanced Screenwriting at New York University, and has received an NYU-SPS Award. He has taught the Master Class in Screenwriting at the School of Visual Arts. He is the Associate Producer of the 2015 feature environmental/human rights documentary shot in India, RESCUING THE STOLEN RIVER. His novel THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT was published in 2014.

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Regina Brooks

CEO at the Serendipity Literary Agency

Regina Brooks is the CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, and formerly held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons and McGraw-Hill. She is the author of three books Never Finished, Never Done, Writing Great Books for Young Adults, You Should Really Write A Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir, and is on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program  and several Low residency programs.  Serendipity Literary Agency clients have received many notable awards including National Book Award, Newbery, Michael Printz, and Caldecott honor, NAACP Image Award and Edgar Award and a host of others.   She was named Woman of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women, and a two-time winner of the StevieTM Award for Women Entrepreneurs.  Regina Brooks has been  featured in books such as The Guide to Literary Agents and the NAACP nominated  Down to Business 10 steps for Women Entrepreneurs, How to Build a Platform and Bill Dukes: Dark Girls. She is on the board of Grub Street Literary Council, National Book Foundation Jr Committee, a member of the Association of Author Representatives, the Authors Guild of America, and New York Women in Film and Television.  She is the Executive Director of YB Literary Foundation, the Founder of Open Lens Publishing Imprint and CEO of  Possibiliteas tea company .  She is also the cofounder of Brooklyn Aviation a private flying club.   Prior to her publishing career she worked as an aerospace engineer and made history as the first African American woman to receive a bachelor’s of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from The Ohio State University.  She is a graduate of The School of the Arts High School in Rochester, NY.  She currently resides in Brooklyn NY.